How This Started and My Hope For This Experiment

My Husband and I are both big fans of Jamie Oliver. For Christmas I bought him Jamie's cookbook "Jamie's 30 Minute Meals: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast". As I read the preface of his cookbook I was inspired by his ideas. He felt that he was spending too much time cooking during the busy week and doing too much clean up. So he decided that for the week night meals there needed to be something quick and still healthy and yummy. He and his team did a lot of work and made the "30 Minute Meals". He has explicit directions for step by step getting the meal done in 30 min. He tells you what to do first, second, and third so that you have all dishes going at the same time, instead of making it dish by dish. Since we aren't doing once a month cooking right now I was captured by this idea and dying to start trying. I have been spending way too much time in the kitchen during the week and can't wait to be able to prepare good meals fast. My husband was all for it since he loves to eat great food and has a very particular palette. He will be making some of the meals on weekends when he isn't working because, this is after all, his cookbook :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Chicken Skewers, Amazing Satay Sauce, Fiery Noodle Salad and Fruit & Mint Sugar

Chicken Skewers, Amazing Satay Sauce, Fiery Noodle Salad and Fruit & Mint Sugar p. 110

This meal was very Jamie and by that I mean it wasn't really "Asian" but it was a good, fast, Jamie substitute that was well worth making and eating again.
This is the noodle salad. It was fresh and exciting. It is a combination of Asian style egg noodles (one nest per person), 100g unsalted cashews, 1/2 med. red onion, 1 fresh red chili, a small bunch coriander, 1-2 TBS. soy sauce, juice of one lime, 1 tsp. sesame oil, 1 tsp. fish sauce and 1tsp. runny honey.
My one beef about this recipe and Asian noodles in general is that you have to rinse them in cold water and then they have to be reheated unless you want to eat them cold. I didn't think it tasted as good lukewarm as it would have if it had been hot so next time I will rinse them and re-heat in a pan/wok until hot. It was such a fresh tasting noodle salad though and would be perfect in summer.
This is the satay sauce. Made with 1/2 a bunch of fresh coriander/cilantro, 1 fresh red chili, 1/2 a clove of garlic, 3 heaped TBS. crunchy peanut butter, lug of soy sauce, a 2 cm piece of fresh ginger and the zest of two limes and juice of one. It was all blended and chopped in the food processor and it was quite tasty. You dress it with a small lug of olive oil before serving. (It didn't really need the olive oil though in my opinion especially since peanut butter is so fattening already. Next time I will leave it off.

These are the chicken skewers. If you are making this in the summer you could grill these :)

If you cut and paste this link into your browser you can watch a short video on how to skewer the chicken. Notice at the end she just about spears her finger with the skewer. ALWAYS keep fingers out of the way when doing this. I have stabbed myself too many times with these skewers and it HURTS. The chicken is coated in some of the satay sauce that was leftover ( I think I used about 1/3 of the sauce. Then you drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle over some salt and pepper and pop under the grill. After about 8-10 minutes you turn them over and drizzle with a little runny honey and then pop under the grill for another 8-10 min.

Here is the finished product. It should have been plated with a little fresh coriander and chopped red chili sprinkled on top but I forgot in the rush to feed the family. You use little gem lettuces to put the chicken and satay in and eat like a lettuce wrap. Don't forget to squeeze over some fresh lime and enjoy. SO GOOD!! Like I said this is a perfect summer night meal-crispy lettuce, fresh lime, grilled chicken, and the refreshing taste of noodles with lime, sesame oil, coriander red onion and chili-perfect!

This meal took about an hour to prepare, but it shouldn't have. It was a fast meal but I got lazy and just worked slowly enjoying the cooking too much. If I had been fast it probably would have taken me 30-40 min. I am still not nearly as fast as Jamie. I have no idea how he is able to do all that he does in 30 min. hmmm....

I do know that one thing that slows me down is my lack of knife skills. I think I will have to start watching some knife videos and practicing. I could use some good knifes as well.

In case you are like me and could really use some knife skills here is a Jamie video to get you started.

I didn't make the fruit and mint sugar that went with this meal because berries are scarce here this time of year. I did however make a fruit salad, inspired by the fruit and mint sugar, that was to die for. My kids just couldn't get enough and I finally had to say OK no more :) The fruit salad will be coming in a later blog post.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Banoffee Pie

Banoffee Pie p. 170
To be honest the only really appealing thing to me about making this desert was how pretty it looked in the cookbook. Imagine then my disappointment when mine looked pretty good but NOT like the picture. My chocolate would not curl and instead would only shave into little tiny shavings :(
The desert is a combination of pastry, banana, a sort of caramel and whipped cream. I really love to eat bananas and I love banana cake/bread BUT I really don't like banana deserts.

The crust is just a regular pastry crust that you bake in your pastry pan. Then you put your pan on high heat and melt 4 heaped TBS of golden caster sugar into the frying pan until it is melted. Then you blitz 2 bananas with 100mls of milk until it looks like a smoothie. You add that to the pan when the sugar is melted and stir it around just a little bit while it is bubbling. When it turns a dark golden color quickly take it off the heat. It should only take 1-2 min. Then pour it in the pastry case and put it in the fridge or freezer (depending on how long you have) to let it cool.

Peel and finely slice 2 more bananas and lay them on top. Top with 300ml of cream (whipped) and garnish with curls of dark chocolate. Hopefully yours will turn out a little more pretty than mine. Everyone really enjoyed the desert though and said it was wonderful. It was fast and easy and could be really beautiful and impressive. I even liked it, but I would rather eat any one of the other deserts we have made from Jamie's cookbook instead. Although it was good, I still prefer something without banana's.

Here is the link on how to make the pie. I wish I had seen this before I made mine. It is quite helpful- Enjoy

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fish Tray-Bake, Jersey Royals, Salsa Verde & Simple Spinach Salad

Fish Tray-Bake, Jersey Royals, Salsa Verde, Simple Spinach Salad, and Cheat's Banoffee Pie p. 168 (the Cheat's Banoffee Pie will be in it's own post later).

This is one stage of the Fish Tray-Bake. Here you have the salmon, tiger prawns, asparagus, lemon, red chili, basil, anchovies in oil, and garlic
I didn't have any doubts that this would all taste good but I was really unprepared for just how well all of the juices would mix together to make the sauce. There is just something about warm lemons that really make a difference.

Now with the tomatoes sliced and added to the top-

And lastly with the pancetta layered on top. It is now ready to be placed in a hot oven under the broiler/grill (middle self) for about 10 min until the fish is cooked threw and the pancetta on top is crispy. Do NOT over cook. The shrimp in here and the fish were perfect. The fish was soft and juicy the pancetta and the asparagus were crispy and the shrimp was juicy and perfect. It is rare I think to get shrimp that isn't over cooked.

Here is a close up so you can see that the lemons are quartered and spread throughout the pan and as they cook they get really juicy and explode with flavor. When you serve it up you can squeeze the lemons on top and it is fantastic. My oldest said that "next time we use lemons we should cook them first because they are so good".

These are the jersey Royals (or new potatoes). These are really yummy but very simple. You just wash them and boil them in salted water with the mint stalks (leaves removed for the Salsa Verde). When the potatoes are cooked through you drain them discarding the mint stalks and dress them with olive oil and the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Season with salt and pepper.

Here is the finished product of the fish bake. It was lovely to look at and to taste.

One thing that makes this meal is the combination of using fish, shrimp AND pancetta. It gives it a very extravagant and exotic feeling to combine more than one kind of meat/seafood. This meal was so simple to make but looked and tasted really impressive. I was so surprised at how easy it was and how quick it was to throw together. The second time I made it went even faster.

It made EVERYONE happy. The kids LOVED it and asked for seconds of everything, but they were especially crazy about the shrimp which makes sense since it is their favorite food and these were cooked perfectly :)

It was beautiful plated. One word of advice though- it should all be eaten right away. The salad will wilt easily and potatoes and fish get cold fast but aren't as good on the reheat. In other words...if husband is late then eat without him.

The Salsa Verde on the potatoes here is made from the leaves of 1/2 a bunch of mint, a bunch of flat-leaf parsley, 1 clove garlic, 2 T. red wine vinegar, 1 heaped tsp. Dijon mustard 1 heaped tsp. capers and 2 cornichons. It was really good but I am not really sure what makes it a "Salsa Verde".

This is the spinach salad-simple but tasty- It was made from baby spinach with the leaves from 1/2 a bunch of mint sliced finely. The dressing is just olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Salt and pepper and the juice of 1/2 a lemon.

This meal took me about 40 min. to make I believe but I forgot to time it. It was amazingly good and we have already made a semi-repeat of the meal. I cooked it without the fish and then put it over fettuccine for Garrett's birthday dinner. It was really fantastic with a little fresh parmesan grated over the top. Yum! Both the original meal and the Birthday dinner received a 10 from everyone. This meal will go into the favorite's list because it was easy and delicious. It would be really great comfort food that is healthy as well.